This Is Us – Systemic Change

August 2022 · Forward in Hope, Ministry News

The Saint Francis Ministries vision consists of five impactful words.

To transform lives and systems.

Daily, through the commitment of more than 1,550 employees working with or in support of children and families, we seek to transform lives. Equally important is our commitment to transform systems because it is through creating systemic change that we can have the longest-lasting impact.

In fact, you’ll often here us referencing the quote from Desmond Tutu: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

Many would argue that societal change is necessary to help keep children from entering the system. Some have said that neglect – one of the common reasons kids enter the system – is often interchangeable with poverty, for instance.

Saint Francis works to affect systems to better serve children and families in a variety of ways, on local and national levels.

Saint Francis Ministries has a seat on the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) National Commission policy committee, which focuses on setting the national agenda to improve services, to prevent youth from being removed, and to assist families in their ability to have protective factors in place. In addition, we have a seat on the CWLA Rural Child Welfare Services Committee, working on challenges in getting care to people living in the rural areas, which includes many of the states where Saint Francis serves.

Chief Clinical Officer, Cheryl Rathbun serves on the CWLA policy committee. She said the priorities determined for the 2022 agenda are critical to addressing needed systemic changes, and it’s exciting to see the ideas and thoughtful work that goes into setting the agenda.

In 2022, CWLA priorities included:

  • Extend Foster Care to Age 21 in All States
  • Address the National Mental Health Crisis
  • Strengthen the Child Welfare Workforce

Learn more about those priorities.

Along with working to create change through national and state organizations, Saint Francis regularly looks to new programming, or to adapting existing programming, to better serve children and families. The foundation of all our work is evidence-based therapies that provide services shown through research to be effective.

Saint Francis has teamed with the University of Kansas Social Work department to support its work through quality research, and with other research institutions. The most recent collaboration is in support of the Fatherhood FIRE program, which offers classes and support to help fathers become the parents they want to be. Learn more!

Another way to focus on excellence and building change that makes system-wide impacts is through continual improvement. Saint Francis has been accredited by The Joint Commission for 48 years. The decision to seek Joint Commission accreditation is based on the desire to improve, to always push to be better and do better. The rigorous work done at Saint Francis to stay accredited means asking the tough questions – where do we need to improve, how can we better meet the needs of children and families, and what would be a better way of serving?

“I am proud to work at an organization where we take our work seriously, knowing that what we do can make a life-changing difference for individuals served,” said Amanda Pfannenstiel, executive director of clinical services. “We collaborate with our state and federal partners, we consistently seek additional training, and we assess potential new programs that can better help our clients.

“We would love to close our doors tomorrow because there was no need for our services. For now, any way that we can better understand how to care for the children who come to us with backgrounds of trauma or how to help families heal from generations of trauma will lead to healing that changes lives.”

That’s what motivates us every day – to change lives by helping children and families heal. You can be part of this mission through your financial support, advocacy, friendship, and prayers. Our success in bringing healing to those who need it most depends in large part on our community partners. To see how you, too, can help transform lives and systems, visit our website.